COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The leading tackler was on the ground in pain, and suddenly every level of the defense was facing the possibility of dipping into the reserves.
Ryan Shazier returned relatively quickly from his injury scare to restore the linebackers to full strength, but his brief absence offered a reminder of how stretched Ohio State already is after four games.
A starter was missing at defensive end again. Two more were absent in the secondary and didn't play at all, and both Shazier and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins had moments of uncertainty with their health in a 29-15 victory over UAB on Saturday at Ohio Stadium -- and the Buckeyes need them all with so little experience behind the first unit.
"That’s an excuse for being passive," coach Urban Meyer said. "Obviously you want your starters in there, but there are some capable backups. We’re just seeing some guys thrust into action. When Shazier went down, you have [Bradley] Roby, you have C.J. Barnett, [Michael] Bennett, four starters out.
"The quality of personnel behind them, they just have to play better. It’s not lack of talent, it’s maybe lack of some experience, but we’ve got to play better."
A quick glance at the notable injuries heading into preparations for Michigan State:
Bennett: The lineman could make his return from a groin injury next week against the Spartans after missing all four games so far.
Roby: The playmaking cornerback was limited in practice this week with a shoulder injury. Doran Grant filled in and supplied an interception, a fumble recovery and a sack.
Barnett: The safety had a sprained ankle that kept him out of practice this week and he didn't dress against the Blazers.
Carlos Hyde: A knee strain has kept the junior running back on the sidelines for the last two games, but he is likely to return for the visit to Michigan State.